My, my how the summer has rushed by! I can hardly wrap my mind around the fact that it is October! But, isn't that this the same shock we experience every year!
Since our last devotional in the summer, much has happened. Our youth group went to the IMPACT Festival and also to a Creative Arts Camp. After kissing summer goodbye, we started a new year of youth group! My second year with Otterbein, and a year I look forward to everyday.
IDENTITY is our theme this year. We are discussing every aspect of Identity and the "what's, why's, how's, and who's" of everyone. Identity is such an interesting concept. On a very basic level, we are all humans. We live, we breathe, we think, we walk, we sit, we laugh, we cry, we eat, we sleep, we wake up and do it all again. Repeat.
But identity is much more that just existing...
Identity explains WHO we are. My identity is my own. It is different than any other person's identity on this planet. Every person experiences emotions, thoughts, ideas, pain, joy, fears, wonder, amazement, confusion, doubt, and love----all in a way that is unique to who they are. We each have an identity that, like our fingerprint, belongs to only us. The crazy part about identity, is that we seem to always be trying to figure out WHAT IT IS.
Who am I?
What am I here for?
What kind of person am I?
What will I be when I grow up?
I'm already grown up...but I still don't know what I will be...?
What am I good at?
What are my convictions?
How can I make a difference in this world?
Will I make a difference at all?
Identity is on our minds much more than we realize. That is the reason we want to unpack it for the next 9 months. We want to grow, develop, change, and encourage our identities. Being Christians adds an entire new flavor to this identity recipe we try to make.
Because, here is what God says about our identity...
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13
“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”1 Thessalonians 5:5
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philippians 2:15
In the best way possible, God is to blame for this whole concept of "identity." He is responsible for the reality that every person is different, unique, individual, and has an identity that is THEIRS.
God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit created the universe. They created the planets. They created the waters and the sky. They created the atmosphere in just the right way for life to EVEN EXIST. They created the sun. They created the moon. They created living nature. Trees, oceans, fields, mountains, valleys, plants, flowers, weeds...even weeds. They created birds of the sea and beasts of the earth. They created every animal, every fish, every bug...yes even spiders.
And then....they created you.
God said "Let us make man in our own image."
Everything else God created was literally from God's imagination! Isn't that awesome and crazy, too!? He dreamed up the universe and everything in it. He was the first ever artist, inventor, and innovator.
But us...you and me...and every human before and after us....we are a different story.
God didn't create us out of imagination doodles in his notebook.
He looked to himself to create humanity. He made us as a reflection of himself. He gave us a heart that beats and feels things on a deep level. He gave us thoughts that other creatures don't have the capacity to think. He gave us minds to process, to dream, to ask, to think, to pray.
He have us mouths to smile, to speak, to laugh, to sing. He made us in the most organic, most beautiful way possible.
Everything God created, He created by speaking it into existence. His words had the supernatural power to create everything we see.
Humanity, however, was different. God created man with his own hands. He got in the dirt and built man from the dust. He then breathed life into man from his own lungs. The very breath of our creator sparked the first breath of creation.
That's how much he cared. That is the love he had for us....from the very beginning. That is how he saw our Identity.
I don't have all or even many answers about Identity. I can't look each of my students in the eye and tell them exactly who they are destined to be. I can't make choices for them or protect them from making choices that will impact their identity.
But, what I do know is the love, grace, and truth of our God. Our heavenly Father sees us as VALUED
He says that we are ADOPTED into his kingdom. That we are sons and daughters in his family. That we are IMPORTANT ENOUGH to get down and dirty to create. That we are IMPORTANT enough to breath life into. That we are IMPORTANT enough to die on the cross for...and IMPORTANT enough to raise from the dead for.
God created us for a purpose, for a reason, with intention. His breath is in us. His image inspired ours. His heart is what ours are made after.
When I ponder my identity I can't help but think that, to God, I matter. That my identity was created in Christ. That my gifts, my imagination, my thoughts, my quirks, even my shortcomings were dreamed up by God. That everything about me was made on purpose- by God. My identity lies in the hands of the creator. If I don't know anything else about myself, I know this: I once was lost but now I am found. I am loved by God, I was made by God, I am not an accident, and he made me EXACTLY how we wants me.
Our group has a lot to learn about identity...but it makes more sense when we know our identity can be found in God. If the world were to ask Christians "Can I see some I.D. please?" They should see the heart, love, grace, of God. We are made in his image and our identity is supposed to reflect his character.
That's what I'm after.
That's what we are after together.